MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte is still against any proposal from private companies to conduct massive land reclamation activities in the Manila Bay, Malacañang said on Tuesday.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made this remark after Duterte, in a public address late Monday night said allowing reclamation activities would result in the “collapse” of Manila.
“Ang sinabi ni Presidente kahapon, hindi siya inclined magbigay ng permit (What the President said yesterday is that he’s not inclined to give a permit),” Panelo said in a virtual presser.
In a separate virtual presser, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said Duterte would not allow the reclamation of Manila Bay, which is currently one of the subjects of the government’s rehabilitation efforts.
“Unless you see a paper to that effect signed by him, then no, status quo pa rin (it’s still status quo),” Nograles said.
In his address, Duterte said reclaiming Manila Bay might result in environmental degradation.
“Hindi ako pumayag na mag-reclaim (I didn’t allow reclamation). Because a reclamation sa (in) Manila Bay would trap sa … environmentally mag-collapse ang Manila (lead to Manila’s collapse),” he said.
Environmental group Climate Reality Project also warned against reclamation activities in Manila Bay, saying it would displace thousands of residents, cause flooding, and destroy its biodiversity.
Duterte earlier said he might only consider government-related reclamation projects.
In February 2019, the President signed Executive Order 74, transferring the power to approve reclamation projects to the Office of the President through the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA).
There are about 25 proposed projects to reclaim 10,000 hectares from Navotas City to Cavite.
PRA General Manager Joselito Gonzales said about four reclamation projects in Manila Bay have been approved -- the Navotas City Coastal Bay Reclamation Project, Pasay 360-Hectare Reclamation Project, Pasay 265-Hectare Reclamation Project, and the Horizon Manila 418-Hectare Reclamation Project.
The projects, however, need to undergo value engineer approval before reclamation efforts can begin.
Duterte said the property developers could wait for his successor to pitch their proposed reclamation activities in Manila Bay. (PNA)